Today, I wore my favorite necklace. It’s actually my all-time favorite piece of jewelry, a necklace created from vintage beads. From the first time I saw it, it took my breath away, and it still does that every time I wear it, although for a different reason. Let me explain.
Back when I was at Keep the Midlands Beautiful, which was at least six years ago, we participated in Sonoco Recycling’s annual Christmas open house for teachers. It was a great event, featuring sustainable snacks, make and take recycled crafts, and a small “Buy Recycled” market.
One of the featured vendors, kjoia, featured jewelry handcrafted from vintage beads. One necklace caught my eye immediately. There were so many things to love about it – the style, the colors, the fact that many women had previously worn the various beads. But it was Christmas, a time to buy for others, and the necklace was a little out of my normal jewelry budget, so I walked away.
Throughout the open house, I went back and forth to the vendor’s table. I’d try on the necklace, ooh and ahh, pull out my checkbook – then my practical side took over, so I’d walk away. I’d think of 100 reasons to buy it, then that darn practical side would raise its ugly head. By the end of the night, my practical side was exhausted from the fight, and I decided to splurge on the necklace. Imagine my heartbreak when the necklace was gone.
“I had forgotten,” said the artist, “but someone actually purchased that online last night. It was a good thing I didn’t sell it to you earlier.”
I told myself that was the best thing. I didn’t really need it, plus, I needed to spend my Christmas money on others, not myself.
After the vendors packed up and the last teacher left, I stayed afterwards to help Sonoco Recycling Education Coordinator Jane Hiller clean up. There wasn’t much to do, but Jane and I were “partners in grime,” and we always helped each other out. With the scrap in the recycling bin and the last chair back in place, Jane handed me a box, which she said was my Christmas present. I opened the fabric pouch inside the box, and slowly pulled out that beautiful vintage bead necklace. I was thrilled to have received the necklace, but more than that, I was so touched by Jane’s thoughtfulness and friendship.
To this day, I think of my colleague and dear friend Jane every time I wear the necklace. We’ve known each other a lot longer now, and we’ve both seen each other through a lot: seemingly impossible work situations, family celebrations and milestones, weight gains and weight losses, and this year, even health crises. Jane has grown dearer to me every year, and every year, that necklace grows even more beautiful to me.
Today, Thank You Thursday, my simple navy knit dress needed a pop, and I immediately reached for the necklace. Someone asked about it – as they do every time I wear it – and I explained that it was a special gift that I appreciate more every time I wear it. And then it occurred to me that although I wrote Jane a thank you note years ago, I needed to let her know how special her gift has become to me.
I give to you today’s Thursday Thank You, in picture form since it was handwritten.